Project Management Toolkit
Managing Innovation : where are we today
Project Management is about how to get the job right while Program Management would rather ensure that the right job is done.
Several concepts have become established in Innovation Project Management, that are presented in more details below:
RG.Cooper, the reference on NPD (New Product Development) has provided the indispensable guide on the essential success drivers, that are: a differentiated product, early embedding of the voice of the consumer, "front-end loading" of the project, stabilizing the product definition, spiral development, discipline in implementation, and speed.
Additional tools are described below, such as: Design thinking, as a way to connect to the consumers and customers, and agile project management, a non-hierarchical project management approach that fits well to the innovation culture. Mastering these 2 concepts is a must for successful innovation projects.
Then, Business canvass, system engineering, project and program management will provide additional support.
Project definition and Terms of Reference
What is to be achieved with a project, and how, has to be described in a document often called Terms of Reference (TOR). Several Templates can be found for Terms f Reference.
The most basic level is covered with the BOSCARD, a minimal list of the key points that must be necessarily included in a project description. The content described in this template can be sufficient to describe a project idea, and decide whether to continue with a pre-feasibility study.
Beyond this stage, several templates can be used for (pre-) feasibility studies, such as the one proposed on WIKIHOW, or using the Business Innovation Canvass described below.
Such a study must necessarily include the status of the market research, the technology analysis, and the financial analysis, as described in the WIKIHOW link. Additionally, for Innovation Projects it must include as well the regulatory and IP assessment, the Risk analysis and the Road to Market plan. Beyond this, an Impact assessment should be part of it as well.
Innovation Projects differ from so-called deployment projects, because the specifications are not stable. In this respect, agile project management techniques, with a spiral of testing and defining, are more adapted. Additionally, "front-end-loading", or spending more time defining the problem, e.g. with design thinking (see below) is critical here, in order to reduce time and money spent on projects that will ultimately fail.
Design Thinking is a methodology used by designers to solve complex problems, and find desirable solutions for clients. Design Thinking draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be, and to create desired outcomes that benefit the end user (the customer). It was developed at Stanford in the 80's and has become since the reference methodology to drive innovation and align to customers.
An intro by McKinsey illustrates also the necessary shift of culture to implement it!
This additional story about the Stone Soup will illustrate what is design thinking: a tool bringing different people, stakeholders or customers, together. Nothing of magic, but truly effective.
The Business innovation canvas
The Business Model Canvas was initially proposed by Alexander Osterwalder based on his earlier work on Business Model Ontology. Since the release of Osterwalder's work in 2008, new canvases for specific niches have appeared.
Project and Program Management
Programme management is about managing groups of projects to achieve a desired outcome or benefit for an organisation. It is about the structuring and control of those projects so they deliver effectively as a group.
The number of references on both is nearly unlimited, but a good start is the PMI, that is aiming at providing standards on Project Management (with the PMBOK), or on Programs, and is providing also an internationally recognized certification scheme for Project Managers.
Other sites are worth visiting, such as the Project Smarta company providing training in these domains.
Project Management has to be a way to implement a corporate strategy. Therefore, it has to be aligned to it. What this exactly mean is developed by Michael Porter, in this video.
Agile & Scrum Project Management
Scrum is a management and control process that cuts through complexity to focus on building new products and software that meets business needs. Management and teams are able to get their hands around the requirements and technologies, never let go, and deliver working software or prototypes, incrementally and empirically.
Scrum itself is a simple framework for effective team collaboration on complex innovation projects. It is a methodology that should be preferred at an early phases of an innovation project, before the industrialisation stage when the PMI methodology is getting relevant
McKinsey has also devoted several documents on agile (project) management, the necesary ingredient to succeed in times of accelerating changes. This intro to the principles, with the necessary shift of culture for leadership, organisation and skills is preented here, with a comprehensive handbook here.
Project Success Factors
The sweet art of driving a project to success will depend on several factors, and to a most part have to do with the project environment: governance, commitment from stakeholders, clarity on expectations, in/out of scope, resources, etc...
You can rapidly check the prerequisites of success of your project through thisself assessment test .
Systems Engineering is a methodology that will facilitate the structuring of projects and programs in a complex environment.
In Consumer and Services, we use the tools of Business Canvas and Design Thinking for the alignment of customers needs and structuring of the deliverables.
But Systems Engineering is a necessary complementary methodology that will address the logical sequence of activities and decisions that transform an operational need into a description of a complex technical system performance.
It will rely on both the technical knowledge domain, such as aerospace, chemical or Computer Engineering, and the Management part, with additional references below.
What Systems Engineering Management is about is described iin this short document, and extensive references and details are available in the comprehensive description of the Systems Engineering Book of Knowledge or SEBoK